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THIRD DIVISION SEP O2 2016

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 214077


Petitioner,
Present:

VELASCO, JR., J, Chairperson,


- versus - BRION,*
PERALTA,
PEREZ, and
REYES,JJ
DANILO A. PA~GASINAN,
Respondent. Promulgated:
August 10, 2016
x----------------------------------------------------------~~~~--x
DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

The Case

Assailed in this Petition for Review on Certiorari are the Decision 1


dated March 10, 2014 and Resolution2 dated August 26, 2014 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in cA-G.R. CV No. 99739 which affirmed the Decision 3
dated March 6, 2012 in Civil Case No. 11-0205 of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 260 in Parafiaque City (RTC), declaring the marriage of respondent
Danilo A. Pangasinan and Josephine P. Pangasinan void on the ground of
their respective psychological incapacity pursuant to Article 36 of the
Family Code of the Philippines.

The Facts

Danilo and Josephine first met at the Philippine Plaza Hotel in Manila
where they were both working sometime in 1981. Following a three-month
courtship, Josephine became pregnant. To erase any notion of impropriety,
the couple immediately contracted marriage, first civilly on December 29,

Additional Member per Raffle dated July 13, 2016.


I Rollo, pp. 36-43. Penned by Associate Justice Mario V. Lopez and concurred in by Associate
Justices Jose C. Reyes, Jr. and Socorro B. Inting.
2
Id. at 44.
:; Id. at 139-147.
Decision 2 G.R. No. 214077

4
1981, followed by a church wedding on January 43, 1982. The couple
begot three children-Juan Carlo, Julia Erika, and Josua.,

At the outset, life for Danny and Josephine generally ran


harmoniously, although marred from time to time by arguments about
money matters. They did not have any major problems, and even became
partners in Danila's business pursuits. 5 Signs of marital kinks appeared
..
when Danilo's business began to slow down. This caused the couple to fight
incessantly, since Danilo began to have difficulty supporting Josephine and
6
their children at the same level to which they were accustomed. Allegations
7
of infidelity on the: part of Danilo compounded things.

Sometime in September 2007, Josephine underwent hysterectomy.


Four days after bringing her home from the hospital, Danilo flew to
Tacloban for a business trip, which Josephine already knew of even prior to
her operation. As it turned out, Josephine did not want him to leave. Danilo
came home to find an irate Josephine seething at him. Josephine's sudden
demand to see his bank passbook so enraged Danilo that he tossed the
passbook in front of her. Josephine, in turn, became incensed and started to
curse and berate him. Out of anger and exasperation, Danilo grabbed and
smashed two glass cups beside him, while Josephine continued on with her
tirade against him. Josephine left the conjugal home the next day, never to
resume cohabitation with Danilo. 8

Thereafter, Josephine filed a number of cases against Danilo, viz: two


cases for violation of Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence against
Women and Their Children Act of 2004 and a petition for annulment-all of
which she would withdraw. Subsequently, however, she filed an action for
legal separation. 9

After 30 years of marriage, Danilo filed a petition dated May 25, 2011
before the RTC, praying for the declaration of nullity of his marriage to
Josephine on the ground of the latter's psychological incapacity under
Article 36 of the Family Code. Docketed as Civil Case No. 11-0205, the
petition was consolidated with the legal separation case that Josephine filed,
but which was, however, ordered archived by the trial court upon her
motion.

Danilo alleged in his petition that barely a few months into their
boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, Josephine already exhibited certain
negative traits, which he merely trivialized at that time. 10 He eventually
discovered his wife to be competitive, domineering, headstrong, and always

4
Id. at 45-46, 57.
5
Id. at 75- 76. (Report)
6
Id. at 80. (Emelie's interview)
7
Records, pp. 553. 559.
8
Rollo. pp. 76-77.
9
CA ro/lo, pp. 51-52.
10
Records, p. 6.
Decision 3 G.R. No. 214077

determined to get what she wanted in the relationship. Their disagreements


even over the most trivial matters usually ended up in fights. However, she
would suddenly become overly excited and elated that she got her way
whenever he gave in to her desires. She enjoyed talking about herself and
expected him to give her special treatment, which he tried to satisfy by
buying her nice and expensive gifts. 11

Josephine's negative traits, so Danilo averred, existed prior to their


marriage. These include an exaggerated sense of self-importance and sense
of entitlement by giving the impression that she was superior to him. She
always made the decisions during their marriage, especially when it came to
money matters, and made it appear to her children that she was the one in-
charge of the family. She ignored and demeaned his abilities and
12
contributions, and complained that she received no help at all from him.
She was indifferent and lacked empathy to his plight, as shown by her lack
of concern for his distress when she failed to take care of him in the hospital
when he was recuperating from two heart surgeries in 2009. During this
time, Josephine visited him but did not tend to his needs. 13

In support qf his case, Danilo presented Dr. Natividad A. Dayan (Dr.


Dayan), a clinical psychologist, who, in her Psychological Evaluation
Report, 14 concluded that both Josephine and Danilo are psychologically
incapacitated to fulfill their essential marital obligations of rendering love
and respect to each other.

On January 9, 2012, the trial court issued an Order 15 approving the


Compromise Agreement 16 dated December 8, 2011 dividing their properties
between them. Josephine manifested then that she is no longer presenting
controverting evidence and is leaving the issue of nullity of their marriage
entirely to the trial court for evaluation.

The Ruling of the RTC

In its Decision dated March 6, 2012, the trial court declared the
marriage between Danilo and Josephine void from the start, noting, among
others, that the totality of evidence presented show that both parties failed to
establish a functional family as they were incapacitated to comply with their
marital obligations. In this regard, the RTC gave much credence on Dr.
Dayan's assessment of Josephine and Danilo's psychological incapacities.
Thus, the trial court ordered them to comply with their compromise
agreement respecting their property relations and the matter of support for
their common children. The petition for legal separation was, however,

11
Rollo, p. 37.
1
~ Id. at 48.
13
Id. at 48-50.
14
Id. at 60-69.
15
Records, pp. 389-392.
16
Id. at 381-383.
Decision 4 G.R. No. 214077

dismissed for lack of merit. The dispositive portion of the RTC's Decision
reads:

WHEI3-.EFORE, finding merit to the petition, judgment is hereby


rendered:

1. DECLARING null and void ab initio the marriage


between DANILO A. PANGASINAN and JOSEPHINE P.
PANGASINAN solemnized on DECEMBER 29, 1981 in MAKA TI CITY
or any other marriages between them, on the ground of the psychological
incapacity of respondent and incidentally on the part of petitioner.

2. ORDERING both parties to strictly comply with the


stipulations of their compromise agreement respecting their property
relations and the matter of suppoti for their common children.

3. ORDERING the Local Civil Registrar of Makati City and


National Statistics Office to cancel the marriage between the petitioner
and the respondent as appearing in the Registry of Marriages.

4. The petition for Legal separation is dismissed for lack of


merit.

There are no other issues in this case.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Registrars of


Makati City and Parafiaque City, the Office of the Solicitor General,
the Office of the City Prosecutor, Parafiaque City and the Office of
the National Statistics Office (NSO).

SO ORDERED. (emphasis in the original)

The Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor


General (OSG), moved for reconsideration but the trial court denied the
motion in its Order 17 dated August 23, 2012.

The Ruling of the CA

Upon review, the CA in the adverted Decision dated March 10, 2014
affirmed the trial court's findings that Josephine, indeed, suffers from
psychological incapacity. Citing Republic v. Court of Appeals, 18 also known
as the Molina case, in relation to Ngo Te v. Yu Te, 19 the CA ruled that
"Josephine was psychologically incapacitated to fulfill the basic duties of
marriage which was corroborated in material points by the conclusions of
the clinical psychologist. x x x [T]he link between the acts that munifest
incapacity and the psychological disorder itself was fully explained." 20

17
Rollo, pp. 148-151.
18
G.R. No. 108763, February 13, 1997, 268 SCRA 198.
19
G. R. No. 161793, February 13, 2009.
10
Rollo, p. 40.
Decision 5 G.R. No. 214077

The motion for the reconsideration of the adverted Decision was


likewise denied by the CA in its Resolution dated August 26, 2014. Hence,
this petition.

The OSG would have the Court set aside the appealed CA Decision in
the submissions that the finding of psychological incapacity on the pat1 of
Danilo and Josephine is not in accordance with law and jurisprudence, and
the petition filed by Danilo does not specifically allege the complete details
of his own psychological incapacity as required by the governing rules.

The OSG contends that Danilo failed to prove that Josephine's


psychological incapacity is a medically rooted psychological affliction that
was incurable and.existing at the inception of their marriage. It further avers
that the gravity, antecedence, root cause and incurability of Josephine's
psychological incapacity were not established by the evidence of
respondent21 in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Court in
Molina. The declaration of nullity of marriage is further assailed as the trial
court, as affirmed by the CA, declared the nullity of the parties' marriage
based on both of their psychological incapacities.

The sole issue for the resolution of this Court is whether or not the
totality of evidence presented warrants, as the courts a quo determined, the
declaration of nullity of Danilo and Josephine's marriage based on their
psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code.

The petition is meritorious.

"Psychological incapacity," as a ground to nullify marriage under


Article 36 of the Family Code, should refer to no less than a mental-not
merely physical-incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the
basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged
by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed in Article 68 of the
Code, among others, include their mutual obligations to live together,
observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. 22

As declared by the Court in Santos v. Court of


23
Appeals , psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b)
juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability. Thereafter, in Molina, 24 the Court
laid down more definitive guidelines in the disposition of psychological
incapacity cases, to wit:

( 1) Burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to


the plaintiff.

21
Id. at I 02.
22
Republic v. De Gracia, G.R. No. 171557, February 12, 2014 (citations omitted).
23
G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995, 240 SCRA 20.
J4
- Supra note 18.
Decision 6 G.R. No. 214077

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a)
medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c)
sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision.

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the


celebration" of the marriage.

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or


clinically permanent or incurable.

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability
of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage.

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by


Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife,
as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents
and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be
stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the
decision.

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial


Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling
or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts.

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and
the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall
be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which
will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his
agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. 25

In sum, a person's psychological incapacity to comply with his or her


essential obligations, as the case may be, in marriage must be rooted on a
medically or clinically identifiable grave illness that is incurable and shown
to have existed at the time of marriage, although the manifestations thereof
may only be evident after marriage. Using the abovementioned standards in
the present case, the Court finds that the totality of evidence presented is
insufficient to establish Josephine and Danila's psychological incapacity.

The totality of evidence presented


fails to establish the psychological
incapacity of the parties

In her Affidavit26 dated October 25, 2011, Dr. Dayan declared that
there is sufficient basis to conclude that Josephine is psychologically
incapacitated to comply with her essential marital obligations since she is
suffering from "301.81 Narcissitic Personality Disorder," as shown by her
exaggerated sense of self-imp01iance, sense of entitlement, lack of empathy,
arrogant and haughty behaviours, as well as beliefs of being superior and
special; and that her psychological incapacity is rooted on a pre-existing
personality disorder and shown to be grave, pervasive, incurable, and to
25
Cited in Aurelio v. Aurelio, G.R. No. 175367, June 6, 20 I I, 650 SCRA 571.
26
Records, pp. 270-278.
Decision 7 G.R. No. 214077

have existed at the time of and even prior to the inception of marriage. Her
personality disorder, Dr. Dayan surmises, had antecedents that were shown
in her experiences of dysfunctional and chaotic family life while growing
up. Dr. Dayan concludes that Josephine's personality disorder is shown to
be grave, pervasive, and incurable, rendering her incapacitated to assume her
marital obligations such as to observe love, respect, and render mutual
supp011.

A careful reading of Dr. Dayan's testimony, however, reveals that it is


replete with generalities and wanting in factual bases.

First, Dr. Dayan's findings as to the psychological incapacity of both


parties were based on the psychological examination conducted on Danilo,
as well as from information sourced from him, his sister, Emelie Pangasinan
Gatus (Gatus), and the couple's son, Juan Carlo "Jay" Pangasinan (Jay). As
pointed out by Josephine's counsel, Atty. Ferdinand Raymund Navarro, Dr.
Dayan gave the following responses to the questions during her cross-
examination as indicated:

Q: You mentioned in your Psychological Report that the respondent


has an exaggerated sense of self-importance?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What specific instance or instances made you come to such a


conclusion, madam witness?

A: For the reason that during the marriage, she has always maintained
a very dominant decision. She has always been arrogant and
haughty, she was always contemptuous in her behavior towards the
petitioner.

Q: And these instances that you referred to, what was your source,
madam witness?

A: My sources are the petitioner, I also was able to interview other


people, the daughter and sister of the petitioner. I was also able to
interview the respondent, sir.

Q: Did the respondent, during your interview, specifically state or


referred to those instances you mentioned earlier?

A: She maintained that she had difficulties in the marriage because


both of them are not doing voluntary make up?

Q: But did she refer to any instance showing what you maintain as
exaggerated sense of self importance?

A: She did not put it that way but she accepted that fact that she was
feisty and she has problems relating with the petitioner, sir.
Decision 8 G.R. No. 214077

Q: So, the source of your findings regarding these particular


characteristics is only based on the manifestations of your other
sources aside from the respondent?
. 27
A: Y es, sir.

While Dr. Dayan testified that she was able to interview Josephine,
28
the said interview was conducted only through a phone call. No
explanation was proffered as to how Dr. Dayan ascertained the identity of
the interviewee nor as to the measures undertaken in ascertaining her
identity. Thus, she could not have conclusively established that the person
being interviewed was Josephine herself. This greatly undermines the
credibility of the results of the psychological evaluation of Josephine. Dr.
Dayan, in effect, relied only on the information given by Danilo, Gatus, and
Jay. Dr. Dayan's testimony on Josephine's psychological profile did not
prove the antecedence and root cause of her psychological incapacity.

It is true that in petitions for nullification of marriages, it is not


necessary that a physician examine the person to be declared
psychologically incapacitated. What is important is the presence of evidence
that can adequately establish the party's psychological condition. If the
totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological
incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person concerned need
not be resorted to. 29 However, the totality of evidence must still prove the
gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability of the alleged psychological
incapacity. 30 In addition to the foregoing, the psychological illness and its
31
root cause must be proven to exist from the inception of the marriage.

In this case, there is no such reliable and independent evidence


establishing Josephine's psychological condition and its associations in her
early life. Aside from what Danilo relayed to Dr. Dayan, no other evidence
supports his claim and Dr. Dayan's finding that the root cause of Josephine's
personality disorder antedated the marriage since Emelie and Jay's
testimonies covered circumstances that transpired after the marriage.

Second, in view of the insufficiency of factual bases of and


generalizations in her Psychological Evaluation Report, Dr. Dayan's
testimony is inadequate to establish concretely the correlation between
Josephine's personality and her inability to comply with her essential marital
obligations to Danilo. Dr. Dayan merely made, as it were, a general
assessment and conclusion as to the gravity and pervasiveness of
Josephine's condition without sufficiently explaining how she arrived at
such a conclusion:

27
TSN, October 27, 2011, pp. 13-16.
13
- Rollo, p. 103.
29
Marcos v. Marcos, G.R. No. 136490, October 19, 2000, 343 SCRA 755, 764.
30
Bier v. Bier, G.R. No. 173294, February 27, 2008, 547 SCRA 123.
31
Marable v. Marable, G.R. No. 178741, January 17, 201 1, 639 SCRA 557.
Decision 9 G.R. No. 214077

Q28. Can you please explain the nature of the Respondent's personality
disorder? '

A28. The nature is severe, as it is pervasive, affecting all areas of her life.
I

xx xx

Q.31 You said that the Respondent's psychological incapacity is grave,


what qo yo mean by that?

A31. It is so serious that the Respondent is unable to perform many, if not


all, her marital obligations. 32

The stringency by which the Court assesses the sufficiency of


psychological evaluation reports is necessitated by the pronouncement in our
Constitution that marriage is an inviolable institution protected by the State.
It cannot be dissolved at the whim of the parties, especially where the pieces
of evidence presented are grossly deficient to show the juridical
antecedence, gravity and incurability of the condition of the party alleged to
be psychologically incapacitated to assume and perform the essential marital
duties. 33 Any doubt should be resolved in favor of its existence and
continuation and against its dissolution and nullity. 34

Danilo's characterization of his wife, without more, is insufficient to


constitute psychological incapacity. At most, it merely establishes that their
personalities are different and that their frequent arguments and differences
in handling finances and managing their business affairs were money-
related. No less than Danilo's own sister, Gatus, narrated during her
interview with Dr. Dayan that the couple's problems started when Danilo's
business began to slow down and he began to have difficulty supporting his
family at the same level they were used to. 35 Thus, it appears that her
"incapacity" surfaced only in the latter years of marriage when they
experienced difficulties in their business ventures.

It has been held that mere showing of "irreconcilable differences" and


"conflicting personalities" does not constitute psychological incapacity nor
does failure of the parties to meet their responsibilities and duties as married
persons. 36 These differences do not rise to the level of psychological
incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code and are not manifestations
thereof which may be a ground for declaring their marriage void. If at all,
these are difficulties that couples ordinarily deal with in the course of their
marriage.

32
Records, p. 276, Affidavit dated October 25, 2011.
33
Agraviador v. Agraviador, G.R. No. 170729, December 8, 20 I 0.
34
Republic v. Court a/Appeals, supra note 18.
35
Rollo, p. 80.
36
Paz v. Paz, G.R. No. 166579, February 18, 2010 (citations omitted); Alcazar v. Alcazar, G.R.
No. 174451, October 13, 2009; Republic v. Cabantug-Baguio, G.R. No. 171042, June 30, 2008 (citations
omitted).
Decision 10 G.R. No. 214077

In Marable v. Marable, this Court stressed that psychological


incapacity must be more than just a "difficulty," "refusal" or "neglect" in the
performance of s~me marital obligations. Rather, it is essential that the
concerned party was incapable of doing so, due to some psychological
37
illness existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage. The
intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of "psychological
incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and
significance to the marriage. 38 Josephine's insensitivity to Danilo's plight
translates to a mere refusal on her part to perform her duties as his wife
brought about by their arguments over their finances, and not an outright
incapability to do so.

Danilo's psychological incapacity cannot be a basis of the


RTC's declaration of the invalidity of the marriage

Neither can the marriage be nullified on the basis of Danilo's


supposed psychological incapacity. While Danilo was likewise diagnosed to
be suffering from "301.9 Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified,
presenting symptoms of Passive-Aggressive and Avoidant Personality
Disorder," 39 which the RTC considered in declaring the couple's marriage
null and void, Danilo anchored his petition on the psychological incapacity
of Josephine only. Section 2 of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity
of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages specifically states:

Section 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void


marnages.

(a) Who may file. - A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of


void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. (n)

(b) Where to file. - The petition shall be filed in the Family Court.

(c) Imprescriptibility of action or defense. - An action or defense


for the declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage shall not prescribe.

(d) What to allege. - A petition under Article 36 of the Family


Code shall specifically allege the complete facts showing that either or
both parties were psychologically incapacitated from complying with
the essential marital obligations of marriage at the time of the
celebration of marriage even if such incapacity becomes manifest only
after its celebration.

The complete facts should allege the physical manifestations, if


any, as are indicative of psychological incapacity at the time of the
celebration of the marriage, but expert opinion need not be alleged.
(emphasis supplied)

37
Supra note 3 I.
38
Republic v. Cuison-Melgar, G.R. No. 139676, March 31, 2006; citing Santos v. Court ol
Appeals, supra note 23.
39
Rollo. p. 68.
Decision 11 G.R. No. 214077

Records show that Danilo's petition is hinged primarily on his


allegation that Josephine is psychologically incapacitated to fulfil her marital
obligations. Notably, Danilo's testimony and the information gathered from
Dr. Dayan's interview with Gatus and Jay are inclined to prove Josephine's
incapacity. As in Josephine's case, the records are bereft of any independent
evidence nor allegation of facts pointing to the psychological incapacity of
Danilo. Therefore, in addition to Danilo's failure to allege the complete
facts showing his incapacity to comply with his essential marital obligations
to Josephine, he likewise failed to prove his wife's incapacity by
preponderance of evidence.

Finally, the Court notes the Compromise Agreement dated December


8, 2011 that Danilo and Josephine executed respecting the division of their
properties and support of their common children. Considering that the
parties may opt to divide their properties by judicial order under Art. 13440
of the Family Code, the Court upholds the validity of the Compromise
Agreement. However, par. 341 thereof providing for the cessation of
financial support in case the parties' marriage is declared null and void is
inoperative since the marriage of the parties subsists.

The Court is not unmindful of the couple's marital predicament.


Nevertheless, the Court has no choice but to apply the applicable law and
jurisprudence accordingly, if it must be true to its mission under the rule of
law. The Court's first and foremost duty is to apply the law no matter how
harsh it may be.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, the


assailed Decision of the Com1 of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 99739 is SET
ASIDE. The basic petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage
commenced by Danilo A. Pangasinan in Civil Case No. 11-0205 is
DENIED. The parties are enjoined to comply with the Compromise
Agreement dated December 8, 2011, excluding paragraph 3 thereof which is
declared to be inoperative and without legal force and effect.

SO ORDERED.

J. VELASCO, JR.

40
Art. 134. In the absence of an express declaration in the marriage settlements, the separation of
property between spouses during the marriage shall not take place except by judicial order. Such judicial
separation of property may either be voluntary or for sufficient cause.
41
"3. The parties agreed that once a decree of nullity of marriage is issued all marital obligations,
including the giving of financial support for each other. shall cease following this approval by the court of
the settlement/separation of property relations.''
Decision 12 G.R. No. 214077

WE CONCUR:

(On Leave)
ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

EREZ

Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Court's Division.

PRESBITEJ{O J. VELASCO, JR.


sociate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the


Division Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.

CERTWIED TRUE COPY

WlLFR!Jif>o V. ~~
nid~>ioJ Clerk of Court
MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO
Chief Justice
Th f rr-d Division
SFP n 2 2016.